By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Paul Kelly, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan
YOKOSUKA, Japan– The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) began Ballistic Missile Defense Qualifying (BMDQ) exercises pierside at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Feb. 29.
Ballistic missile defense exercises are digital simulations that use the Aegis Simulation Test and Training System (ASTATS), special software that generates digital dummy targets. The ship’s defensive sensors, such as radar, “track” these computer-generated contacts. Sailors, from inside the Combat Information Center (CIC), then decide how to respond quickly and appropriately to the various threats.
BMD is one of the primary defense methods in the U.S. Navy and 7th Fleet. BMD technology is continually updated, as the capability of tracking, reporting and engaging ballistic missiles threatening the U.S. and its allies continue to change and develop.
“This type of training proves our system is reliable, works properly, and exhibits our system’s capabilities so we are ready to go out there and defend our assets against enemies,” said Fire Controlman 1st Class (SW) James C. Andrus. “In CIC, we are broken up into watch teams, and given the nature of the training, the scenarios can be very demanding, but we do this so that we are well qualified and prepared.”
Andrus said that in order for Stethem to be prepared for the drills, they began conducting re-certifications weeks in advance.
The drills take about three hours to conduct in CIC. Sailors perform multiple types of mission scenarios to test and prove their systems reliability, as well as exhibit the system’s capabilities.
“As part of the drill, we utilize the primary air search radar, which gives overall kill assessments for the airspace, while running ballistic missile defense drills,” said Fire Controlman 3rd class John Riabtsev.
Riabtsev added that this type of networked training allows them to train realistically, whether in port or at sea.
“We take this very serious. We train like we fight and we fight like we train,” said Andrus.